Red Level looks to knock off McKenzie

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 1, 2015

Red Level’s John Lee runs the ball during the game on Friday night. He scored two touchdowns and 182 rushing yards.

Red Level’s John Lee runs the ball during the game on Friday night. He scored two touchdowns and 182 rushing yards.

The Red Level Tigers (2-3, 1-1) hope to continue their winning ways when they host Class 1A, Region 2 rival McKenzie (3-2, 2-1) on Friday night.

“It’s going to be a typical dog fight,” Red Level head coach James Wise said. “It’s a big rivalry and there will be no love loss. If we work hard and catch a couple of breaks we will have a chance to beat McKenzie.”

Red Level is coming off a 45-0 throttling of J.F. Shields last Friday night for a homecoming victory, and McKenzie found itself on the short end of lopsided 43-12 loss against 3A Hillcrest-Evergreen.

Red Level owns a slim lead in the overall series with a record of 30-28, but fell last season to McKenzie, 40-12.

So far on the season, McKenzie has outscored their opponents by a margin of 191-136, and Red Level has outscored the opposition 145-100.

“On offense, they are going to do what that have done all season, which is to run speed sweeps, counters and screens in the flats. Then once they get you sucked up, they will go deep with the ball. They have a very good quarterback, a good running back and a real good wide receiver. They may have lost two games this year, but they haven’t lost to slouches. They expect to win this game, and they are going to come out ready to play.”

Wise said that the key for Red Level, when McKenzie is on offense, will be to protect the edges.

“Like most good teams with speed, they attack the edges very well,” Wise said. “We will have to do a good job at keeping them in front of us and not give up the big plays.”

McKenzie sits tied in second place with Brantley in Region 2 behind Georgiana, who handed McKenzie their only region loss of the season.

When McKenzie is on defense, Wise said that they will stack the box to attempt to keep Red Level from running the ball.

“We are going to have to be able to throw the ball a little against them,” Wise said. “We won’t be able to run the ball every time, and we are going to have to do something to try and get that eighth and ninth guy out of the box. Last week against Shields, we threw the ball a little more to get our quarterback a little loose for this game. Our wide receivers are going to have to step up and make plays for us. For that matter, our role players have to all step up for us to have a chance to beat McKenzie.”

Wise said that due to all the rain at the beginning of the week, Red Level has been unable to practice like he would have liked to.

“It hasn’t been the best week of practice,” Wise said. “First two days were mostly a wash, but it looks like we are going to get a chance to get out today (Wednesday). We won’t have walkthroughs on Thursday like we normally do, but instead we will be out in full gear to make up for the missed days.”

Red Level currently is tied with Kinston for the fourth and final playoff spot for Region 2. Kinston and Red Level will meet on Oct. 16 for a crucial region battle.

“The kids a little excited, well more of a nervous excitement,” Wise said. “We haven’t beaten them in awhile. If we can just not give up the big play and show them that we can hang with them, I think we will be just fine.”

Kickoff between Red Level and McKenzie will be at 7 p.m., at Bobby Dye Stadium.